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The ZX Spectrum Next - Kickstarter Now Live! : Now Funded!

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A plastic peek

 

Posted by Henrique Olifiers (Creator)

 

Following from the previous update featuring the moulds pictures, our plastic manufacturing partners made the first injections to test the quality of the cases that come out of them. Now that this injection is done, they can start adjusting variables such as correct plastic flow and temperature to eliminate any artifacts that could affect the final look of the case. And for a first injection, it’s looking rather good already, but as expected three are a few flaws to fix. 

 

Very much work in progress. But PROGRESS!

 

Meanwhile, our keyboard experts are dealing with a new variable to them: a three-layer matrix. The original Speccy had the typical two-layers matrix one would find in a modern keyboard, but when the Spectrum+ was introduced with extra keys such as ‘Delete’, ‘Caps Lock’ and the arrows, a third layer had to be introduced -- the alternative would have been to add more connections to the keyboard membrane to the board, something Sinclair avoided to keep the compatibility between the Plus and the standard Speccy.

 

We’re facing the same challenge: we can’t add more connectors to the keyboard (or the Next board wouldn’t be compatible with the original Speccy keyboard), thus three layers it is, just like the Plus and 128.

 

And so started the experiments of manufacturing a modern keyboard, with new membrane materials, but using an extra layer in the middle. The most important factor here is to avoid the extra volume of an additional layer interfering with the performance of the keyboard’s butterfly mechanism, and keeping the ‘feel’ of the keys unchanged.

A sandwich by any definition

 

For the next update, we expect to see the membrane already attached to the test keyboard and fully validated ‘clicking-wise’, so the keyboard’s final plastic injection adjustments can take place in parallel to the adjustments of the case. Then, we assemble the two together and move ahead!
 

Power Blade 2 on the Next

Evgeniy Suhomlin posted a video with a peek of his team’s work on Power Blade, and how it works on the Speccy 128 and on the Next. There isn’t much disclosed about the project so far, but Evgeniy promised a new video soon (and this time with subtitles) for us all to dive in. For the time being, check out how the game looks on the Next (if you want to see the other versions, skip back the video a bit).

https://youtu.be/Ug7yUGS_5ao?t=403


 

Elena programming language

Kevin Watkins is working on a new programming language for the Next called Elena. There’s a new demo for it, which looks a lot like Team17’s Project X for the Amiga, well worth checking it out.

 

More details about Elena can be found here: https://www.mrkwatkins.co.uk/2018/05/16/elena-the-second-demo/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4NPkCMpF5w


 

The making of Next Lemmings, chapter three

Mike Dailly is forging ahead with his incredible work on Lemmings, with a third installment of his diary now available. It’s magic in the making, I tell you, and a wonderful read to boot: http://dailly.blogspot.co.uk/2018/05/making-next-lemmings-part-3.html

Oh noooo!


 

Firmware update (and including Dreamworld Pogie demo and more!!!)

A new update to TBBlue is coming this week. This will include tons of new features, plus a demo of Dreamworld Pogie (read more about it here: https://www.specnext.com/lyndon-sharp-wasp-and-pogie/), Orb Run by Matt Davies (a favourite of mine), an updated version of Nextoid from Lampros Potamianos and a new demo by Robin Verhagen-Guest.

Huge thanks and credits, as always, go to Garry Lancaster for the fantastic work on NextOS, the ever-better OS and Basic which is, in our humble opinion, the best BASIC there is bar none! ;)

 

Core update to version 0.31

New NextOS version 1.98D

Includes latest version (03) of Geoff Wearmouth's Looking Glass ("LG") ROM. Includes keyboard fixes.

Implemented new command to select speed 0/1/2 (3.5/7/14MHz): RUN AT speed 

Implemented new commands to list the program (or banked section) starting from a particular procedure:
- LIST PROC procname()
- BANK n LIST PROC procname()

Implemented new command to merge a range of program lines into a single line (separated with colons): LINE MERGE first,last

When an error occurs, the listing in the NextBASIC editor is automatically adjusted to include the line that caused the error.

On layers 1/2 (and in windows), PRINT AT y,x now uses character coordinates for consistency with layer 0 (although the number of lines/columns can change depending upon what character set size is selected and whether reduced height mode is enabled).

On layers 1/2 (and in windows), added new positioning option to PRINT, which allows the print position to be specified in pixel coordinates (like PLOT): PRINT POINT x,y;

Added '0' key as alternative to ENTER on menus and Browser. This allows joystick navigation, provided it has been set up as the "cursor" type in the Next/TBBLUE settings.

Various bugfixes and minor improvements.

Firmware update to 1.07

Playable demo of Dreamworld Pogie by Lyndon Sharp

Orb Run by Matt Davies

Updated Nextoid from Lampros Potamianos

New playable demo by Robin Verhagen-Guest. You can find more information on his demo here: https://seven-fff.com/spectron2084/.

New features and commands for this latest NextOS version were originally suggested by Matt Davies based upon his experience creating his “Orb Run” game for a game jam.

Stay tuned, the next update should have a lot of… Plasticity… about it. ;)

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I had a good couple of goes on Baggers in Space at the recent Retro Revival event.

 

The game was great fun and controls were extremely responsive. It starts off like Jetpac as you build your ship, then some TNT appears, you blast through the surface of the planet and you're off collecting fuel in a sort of On The Run / Bacacker's Guide / H.E.R.O mish mash.

 

Visually, the game looked like a high end Amiga PD game.

 

I really enjoyed it and look forward to adding it to the collection when it's released.

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58 minutes ago, roberthazelby said:

 

I'm not sure if it's going to be bundled with The Next or will be a standalone release.

The Next updates mention a lot of games being developed but I've lost track of what is included and what is just going to be available to buy. I know they've got a few like Rex and that Dizzy game, if I remember rightly.

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2 hours ago, Gregory Wolfe said:

 

 

I can't help but think the Campaign should never have done a "board only" option.

 

The next (and final) part of the design is to create a Keyboard membrane that uses the same design multi-layered keyboard membrane methodology as the Spectrum+, giving the extra keys like cursor keys etc, because at the time Sinclair decided to cut costs and use the same motherboard design as the original 48k Spectrum.

 

Problem was that original motherboard design didn't allow extra keys.

 

If they hadn't implemented the board only option, it wouldn't matter, they could have just had a modern keyboard membrane design, but they can't as the board had to be backwards compatible with the original Spectrum. 

 

While it's great to get some "beta" feedback from the board only users, again I can't help but think the board only option just added more delays due to the amount of time spent supporting the setup issues those backers had (which from reading the original Facebook posts, seemed mostly like user issues than hardware/system ones). 

 

Fingers crossed this works out and we get our hands on the Next in the "Next" few weeks. This last update also says they're expecting final shipping dates to be announced the first week of July. Which is coincidentally 2 weeks from the last Retro Computers Ltd Shareholders meeting.

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